Halleluja, the NHL is Back!

On the 113th day the NHLPA delivered unto us a season, and just in time too. The NHL season was supposed to be finished with no if and’s or buts about it, but despite my natural tendency to loathe anyone associated with this debacle and affront to my sports passions, I’m just saying, “Thanks, Donnie.”  The Fehr Bear finally assented to giving Gary Bettman what he has wanted the whole time – a 10-year deal with an opt out clause at Year 8 and a capped player contract length.  Teams are now only allowed to sign players to a max 6-year contract term (8 if they’re being resigned). The league is also getting a 48-game season underway this weekend which could start a little sloppy, but at least it’s a season.  Come late-April playoff time the cream will have predictably risen to the top and teams that are supposed to be there will be there.

The NHL is back (!), and for fans of football who are seeing the most coveted of all seasons end, it’s a great sign that all is not lost – if you’re picking in the top 20 of the draft in April – to know that there is another go-to sport ramping up.  Basketball is now going to have competition, and perhaps this will force Greg Popovich to play his triumvirate of stars when the game is a national showcase. The NBA will now step up its game, so I half expect the Lakers to go on a magical 20-2 run which will put them back in the playoff chase. The Celtics will surely get Demarcus Cousins for pennies on the dollar and then will realize the dubious honor of trying to “Beat the Heat,” which will go for as long as Stern needs to extricate as much revenue as he can out of Disney.

Yes, the NHL is back (!), and with it a sheet of ice is back, fighting is back, checking is back, fancy stickwork and puckmanship is back, and even toothlessness is back.  A week after the USA defeated Sweden in the World Juniors, teams will get to follow their rising crop of young stars.  As and when NBC realizes it has a superior product to whatever ABC is showing, we will then see some of these bright, very attractive, very marketable characters on national ads.  If there is one thing the NHL has over the NBA – other than pure talent and excitement – it’s the fact that I don’t think too many people wanna rush the ice to see if they can tame guys like Duncan Keith or Jimmy Hayes.